UK stocks started the week on the front foot with the FTSE 100 index gaining 0.8% to 7108.53 in early trading led by energy companies as oil prices continued their recent surge. Shares in BP (BP.) gained 2.2% to 327p and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) added 2.8% to £15.72.

Brent crude traded 62 cents firmer at $78.71 per barrel, its highest level in over a year, as rising demand around the world in the lead-up to winter pushed energy prices higher across the board.

COMPANY NEWS

Shares in serviced office group IWG (IWG) jumped 6% to 304p after news reports over the weekend suggested founder and chief executive Mark Dixon was considering breaking the firm up and listing its corporate booking app on the US market.

The company, which owns the Regus and Spaces office brands, could list its Worka comparison app through an initial public offering or a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), according to Sky News.

Aero engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce announced it had won a contract to supply engines for the iconic B-52 Stratofortress for the US Air Force for the next 30 years.

The firm called the contract a ‘major win’, although it didn’t reveal the commercial details. Shares gained 6.6% to 141p.

United Utilities (UU.), which supplies water to the North West of England, said trading in the first half was in line with its expectations, although it noted household consumption remained high as many customers were continuing to work from home, driving up operating profits. Shares eased 0.4% to £10.01.

Private equity and infrastructure company 3i (III) reported good progress in its investment portfolio in the first half.

Dutch retailer Action, the fund's largest holding, posted a 20% increase in sales year-to-date to more than €4.5 billion. 3i said it expected further strong progress in the firm's EBITDA going into the year-end. Shares added 0.5% to £13.06.

Generic pharmaceutical company Hikma (HIK) revealed it had agreed to acquire US based generic sterile injectable company Custopharm for up to $425 million.

Under the terms of the deal, Hikma will pay an initial cash consideration of $375 million, with a further $50 million in contingent consideration payable upon the achievement of certain commercial milestones. Shares were 0.5% higher at £23.98.

Insurance company Prudential (PRU) set the offer price for its Hong Kong raising at HK$143.80 ($18.47) each, the company said, fleshing out its announcement of 20 September.

Most of the net proceeds -- about $2.25 billion -were expected to be used to redeem existing high-coupon debt. The remainder would contribute to Prudential's central stock of liquidity, in order to further increase financial flexibility. Shares were 1.9% higher at 1420p

SMALL-CAP NEWS

Shares in cloud computing company Beeks Financial Cloud (BKS:AIM) jumped 10% to 188p after the firm increased its revenue outlook in response to securing new business.

The company said it now expected revenues for the year to June 2022 would be ahead of current market expectations. The trading update accompanied results for the full year ended 30th June 2021, which revealed underling profit and revenue increases of 13% and 24% respectively.

Shares in location group 1spatial (SPA:AIM) traded 8.5% higher at 44.5p after winning an £8 million government contract to deliver digital transformation.

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Issue Date: 27 Sep 2021